Compare and contrast.
A man with a .38 revolver and 10 rounds of ammunition entered a building. He went to the office of his first victim and shot him in the shoulder and chest, and twice in the head. He reloaded his gun while walking to another office and found his second victim who was shot five times with “the final two shots fired with the gun’s barrel touching” the victim’s skull.
I live in Portland, Oregon, which mostly receives electrical power from Portland General Electric. Founded in 1888 the company was eventually owned by Enron Corporation from 1997 until 2006 until Enron went bankrupt.
See? I just used a writing technique known as foreshadowing.
Foreshadowing is a literary device by which an author hints what is to come.
By dropping the name Enron, you are now on notice that this story does not bode well. The portends are decidedly not in our favor. It’s time to omen up.
Yes, I’m being mysterious. I’m trying to leave you in the dark. Just like Portland General. Bazinga!
Being a major metropolitan area, the City of Portland is designed with security and reliability in mind. Power outages simply do not happen unless:
- The wind blows up to one (1) mph
- A squirrel gets hungry
- Water magically falls from the sky
- A drunk person, in a trillion-to-one event, rams their car into a pole
Such simple criteria means the city loses power about every 42 minutes. Who knew that cramming 625,000 people in the same area would make stuff happen? Yes, I live in a city where squirrels are frequently blamed for power outages.
At least Portland is safe. No one, not even a terrorist, could ever fuck with this city unless:
- A tweaked out kid needs to take a whiz in a city resevoir
- The wind blows and a branch falls and an entire power grid goes haywire
- Water magically falls from the sky
Portland has many names. The City of Roses. Bridgetown. Stumpdown. Rip City. Little Beirut. PDX. Cloud City. But, during autumn at least, it could also be known as The City of Leaves. (Leaves are the unpredictable byproduct of shitloads of trees.) And the city has a great strategy for dealing with them. “Clean ’em up your own damn self. You want your storm drains to work? Better get on it. By the way, we’re adding a street fee. You need to pay more taxes for this.”
So it rained on Sunday. We were out running errands. We had to retrace our steps. We drove through St. Johns. Then it started to rain. An hour later we went through the same area. It had already flooded the size of Lake Erie. It wasn’t even a heavy rain.
There had been a few brief gusts of wind. So, yeah, the power was already out. We pulled into a bar just as thunderous lightning spooked everyone in the place. They were amazed. Lightning? Wowwee. Perhaps Portland has exactly the power company it deserves?
We continued on our way and that’s when I noticed it. The traffic signals were are dark. None of them were red. None were yellow. None were green.
You know what that means, right? The entire city went Starman on steroids. Perhaps we can add “Starport City USA” to our lengthy list of nicknames?
[Starman is driving the car, and speeds across a recently turned red light, causing crashes for the other motorists]
Jenny Hayden: Okay? Are you crazy? You almost got us killed! You said you watched me, you said you knew the rules!
Starman: I do know the rules.
Jenny Hayden: Oh, for your information pal, that was a *yellow* light back there!
Starman: I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.
Apparently the collective wisdom of the hipster lumbersexuals in PDX is this: No street light, go very fast.
That’s weird because the law says an unpowered traffic signal is to be treated as a four-way stop. It’s so weird that no one in Portland knew that. Keep Portland weird.
So we sat at an intersection watching an endless stream of cars whiz by at top speed and we never got a turn. To pass the time we celebrated several birthdays. And I plotted revenge. Now I understand where Joker, Riddler and Penguin are coming from.
This may be my last blog post for a while. I’ve decided to keep my computer turned off when I think Portland General will be unable to keep the grid powered. By my calculations that means I’ll have a 42-minute window of electricity per day.
Neighbor kills neighbor. Don’t worry, though. They will pay for what they’ve done. Especially if they hate the inconvenience of annoying paperwork, attending a couple of hearings and paying a fine. That’s more than sufficient punishment for killing a fellow human being, right?
What is a society? My definition is a system where people make decisions that impact the safety of others. More and more it seems like that’s the only definition that matters.
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Here’s a couple examples I’ve noticed of late.
A new term has cropped up recently to describe the act of publishing a person’s real name, address and other personal information on the internet with the intent to cause harm.
Yes, it happens so much there’s a word for it now.
The term is “dox.”
Years ago, long before it was trendy, I was doxxed. I had banned a couple of racists from an online forum and they were none too happy about it. So they threatened to kill me. “You have 24 hours to get out of town. Or else.” Seriously? You just did that? I didn’t realize I lived in the town of Tombstone. Oh, look. There goes a tumbleweed. Somewhere a chicken clucks.
I reported the emails to the police. They contacted me and I showed them the printouts. “That happened online? That’s not real. There’s nothing we can do.” True story. Good times.
Later the racists doxxed me on Craigslist, published photoshopped pictures of me and my wife, and took credit for killing my missing cat. Craigslist wouldn’t reply to my requests for help. Remember, I was years ahead of my time. Again, I turned to the police. I had proof I had been doxxed. Their reply? “Nothing we can do about that. It’s not illegal. That’s public information.”
Fast-forward to today and the Topsy-Turvy part: Oregon currently has about 55 “juvenile sex offenders” attending class in 24 different school districts. Parents and other students are not notified of their presence. Why? Because of federal and state laws that protect the privacy of the sex offender student.
How do you know when a situation is Topsy-Turvy? When it only flows one way – against you – at every possible turn. That’s Topsy-Turvy!
You may remember the name Ethan Couch. Recently his name has been coming up in the news again. He’s the Texas teenager who used the “affluenza” defense to get out of serving jail time for killing four persons while driving drunk at over three times the legal limit. He was 16 at the time when he crashed into a stalled pickup on the side of the road.
A CBS television station in Dallas, Texas, reported yesterday that Ethan will be released “very soon” from about a year spent in rehabilitation. Once released, he will be on ten years of probation. He will not have served any jail time for his actions.
And now some Topsy-Turvy: A 90-year man was arrested and taken away, in handcuffs, by Fort Lauderdale police. His crime? Feeding the homeless.
For 23-years Arnold Abbott has operated a non-profit organization called “Love Thy Neighbor” which distributes hundreds of meals per week to the needy. The mayor of Ft. Lauderdale supports a city ordinance that essentially bans food sharing among local citizens.
The mayor was initially defiant. “Just because of media attention, we don’t stop enforcing the law,” he said. Now, in light of media attention that threatens tourism and the local economy (which consists primarily of horny millennials drinking lots and lots of booze and having gratuitous sexual relations with each other and inanimate objects like fire hydrants) he has adopted a more conciliatory tone.
A killer of four walks free among us while a 90-year old man is “dragged away in cuffs” for feeding hungry people and threatening the rights of young people to act like assholes. That’s a whoop ass can full of fucking Topsy-Turvy.
I’m back in office (or, as I like to call it The Love Den) after a weekend of travel. Maybe I’ll do a travel post. Or maybe, like always, I’ll plan on it and never get it done. Anyway, this is my first post in a few days that wasn’t written by breaking my fingers on a tiny electronic keyboard on an iPad. As such, I’m pretty happy. -Ed.
Are things getting better or worse? My personal theory is that things have always been shitty and it’s a remarkably consistent thing. Were people more “evil” in medieval times or in present day? My guess is that both were about the same. The only difference is that we think things should be better today and when they’re not our brains incorrectly interpret the difference between reality and perception expectations as some kind of disconnect.
Our helpless brains then think things like, “Things are going to hell.” Only they’re not. The more things change the more they remain the same.
I remember when I was a kid. A service dog was something limited to blind and deaf people. These were highly trained animals that were rarely seen in public. And when they were nobody questioned their legitimacy. Why would we? What kind of freaking asshole would you have to be to take advantage of laws for disabled just because you want your pet to tag along when you go shopping or out to eat?
We also used words like “please” and “thank you” and held open doors for other people.
In today’s world an amazing number of us have no such ethical quandaries. We want something ergo the ends justifies the means. Period. The only criteria that must be met is that we want it. And, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty darn low standard to meet.
Park in a disabled parking space? I’ve never done it once in my life. A few months back I fell out of a boat and smashed my ankle on a rock while whitewater rafting. The damn thing still hurts like hell. I could have asked my doctor (if I had one) to fill out the paperwork for a temporary permit. Why the hell would I? I can limp the extra 20-50 feet just fine. What kind of an amazing prick must you be to think you are entitled to take a parking space from someone who really needs it.
I recently spoke with a person who freely admitted to doing it. And why wouldn’t they? In their mind there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. No recognition of ethical boundaries translated into no reticence about freely admitting what they had done. Their brain literally couldn’t comprehend their might be something wrong with such behavior. It would conflict with The Want.
This same person, though, had a major issue about people touching her dog. The dog is high strung and has a lot of anxiety. It doesn’t like to be touched except on its own terms. But when she took the dog out in public, like grower’s markets, strangers would pet the dog without asking and without permission. This was greatly upsetting to her.
Later, she took us to a public park where there were signs posted that said, “No dogs allowed.” It never crossed her mind that her dog shouldn’t be there. Run loose, doggie. Be free!
Her mind was literally incapable of discerning the reality of her beliefs and actions. Under one set of mores people were rude assholes for breaking rules and in the other she saw nothing wrong with her behavior. Both were able to sit comfortably in her brain at the same time and she never noticed anything wrong about it.
When I lived in San Diego I had a daughter who was deathly afraid of dogs. They would make her scream, shiver and become emotionally withdrawn. The fear may not have been realistic or logical but it existed nevertheless. As such, we didn’t take her to public spaces like dog parks. We’d search out public parks where dogs were prohibited. There was one of these near the ocean where we liked to go to fly kites.
There were other dog-friendly places. They even had their own beach. But invariably someone would show up and unload their dogs and let them run free. The dogs would rapidly approach us and the owners would say things like, “Don’t mind Fluffy. He would never hurt anyone.” Well I guess we have your word on that, don’t we? The word of a known criminal. Meanwhile the day was ruined, for us, with my young daughter back at the car and wetting her pants.
Well played. You get your dog area for backup and our space as your primary. You probably didn’t want to go there because there were too many dogs, right?
So are we bigger assholes to each other today or does it only seem that way? We certainly seem more narcissistic and masturbatory. But back then there less rule of law and other things in abundance like slavery, racism, gender oppression, genocide and more. Maybe as a society all we’ve done is redistribute the evil in new and interesting ways? Maybe the amount always must remain constant?
Note: I have chosen to include the “gamergate” hashtag with this post. Am I using it correctly? I don’t really know. I don’t have a friggin’ clue. I am not a gamegate scholar. I don’t have the time or inclination. I don’t really care if I’m using it improperly. That’s not what this post is about. IMHO a lot of people are trying to control, define and co-opt the term based on their own bias, point of view and/or agendas. I’m not taking sides in any gamergate wars. Any offense you perceive as you read the following is your own. –Ed.
Dear Ms. Sarkeesian,
May I call you Anita? I hope so. If not, that’s okay, too. Either way, no offense is intended.
I’ll be honest. I look up to you. I think you are a true modern day hero. When I say “hero” I mean that in the grandest sense of the word. You rock.
Wikipedia says that “[a] hero (masculine) or heroine (feminine) refers to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.” Two different words for “hero” based on gender? Isn’t that part of the problem? Whatever. Either way, I believe a “hero” is you.
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